Night of the Apprentice
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Story Notes:

A gift for TheAceApples for the May the Fourth Be With You 2022 fandom event.

The sound of the front gate screeching on its hinges roused Ezra from a light sleep. His eyes shot open and he lay completely still, not even breathing, but sensing, feeling through the Aether for that familiar energy signature—and there it was. Cool, dark and smooth, like the crust that forms on lava. He kicked off the covers and launched out of bed.

His master was home.

Grabbing his robe from the wall hook, Ezra shrugged it on and slipped his feet into a pair of leather shoes. He paused at the mirror to check his reflection, pinching the sleep from the corners of his eyes, running a hand through his shoulder-length hair, and tying the robe’s belt. Then he flung open the door to his chamber and bolted, footsteps clapping on the floor.

Except for a few muted strands of moonlight peeking in from the narrow windows above, it was pitch black in the east corridor, but Ezra needed no light. He’d been living in the castle since he was seven and knew every stone and step as intimately as his own body. He bounded down the stairs, taking them three at a time, his heart thumping giddily in his chest.

Two weeks and two days his master had been gone. Though Ezra was hardly alone at the castle, his master was in many ways his sole source of companionship, except for the rare occasions when he was given permission to enjoy a pint or two down at the tavern in the neighboring village. But those incidences were few, and his master never accompanied him, which made them less enjoyable. After all, what fun was there in drinking alone?

Ezra leaped from the last step and scurried into the main hall just as a shadowy figure strode in from the foyer. A balmy wind, the kind that stirs just before a storm, blew through the doorway, scattering leaf litter across the floor. The figure pulled down the hood of a black robe, revealing blood-red skin covered with tattoos, a crown of horns on a hairless head, and piercing yellow eyes. This was Maul: Zabrak by birth, Nightbrother of Dathomir, former Lord of the Sith, a sorcerer of dark magic. Although he’d left behind his title of “Darth” many years ago, his infamy was known even in the Outer Kingdoms. The Rogue Sorcerer, he was called. Tyrant of Mandalore. Leader of Crimson Dawn. Founder of the Shadow Collective. But these days he went by a much simpler moniker.


His gaze settled upon Ezra Bridger, his nineteen-year-old protégé, jogging across the floor toward him. The boy’s aura was radiant, his eyes bright and clear, full of gladness. Maul’s fierce countenance abruptly softened. “Apprentice,” he said in a smooth, cultured voice. His eyes strayed to the copper skin flashing between the robe’s sides before tracking back to the handsome young face.

Ezra slowed to a halt before his master, slightly winded, and fumbled for an appropriate greeting. “Er, welcome home!” he said at last, punctuating with a forced laugh. His hands wrestled nervously with one another.

“Indeed,” Maul said, glancing around. “I’m glad to find it still standing. With your penchant for mischief, I half expected to return to a smoking pile of rubble.”

“Oh, well, there was a fire, but it wasn’t too bad. Only burned one floor, and nothing important was lost.”

Maul went still.

A beat passed, then Ezra smirked. “Wow, you almost fell for that one.”

“Hmph, almost.” A smile teased Maul’s lips. “You’ve become quite the deceiver.” There was a distinct note of pride in his tone.

Ezra lowered his eyes with a bashful grin, catching sight of his master’s clothes as he did. They were dirty from travel, flecked with mud, sodden in places—though with the fabric being solid black, the wetness was only detectable by the light of the flickering braziers. A familiar odor, coppery and gutty, the stench of an abattoir, clung to him. When it reached Ezra’s nostrils, his smile vanished and he stepped closer. “Is that blood? Are you hurt?”

“No. Only weary.” Maul unburdened himself of the sack he carried on his shoulder. It fell to the floor with a meaty thud. “I happened upon that bull Nydak when I crossed into Dathomir. For all the trouble it’s given us these last few months, I thought it would be more of a challenge. Rather disappointing. Nevertheless, its tusks ought to make a fine hilt for your lightsword… or anything else you desire.”

For a moment Ezra was stunned. His gaze drifted to the bloodstained sack. “Thank you,” he said in a small voice, nodding dutifully.

Even without his connection to the Aether, Maul would have been able to detect the turbulence in the boy’s heart. These things had a way of bubbling to the surface whenever it came to Ezra. His passion was both his strength and his failing. Maul adored that about him. “It was a clean kill,” he said. “Severed the head. It felt nothing.”

Ezra nodded again, keeping his head down. “Thank you. I’m grateful. Really.”

“It was a menace, Ezra.”

“I know, but.” An apologetic twitch. “I can’t help but feel sorry for it. It was just doing what Nydaks do.”

“Indeed,” Maul snorted. “Maiming, dismembering, mutilating. Pissing on every rock and root it can reach, generating acres of bones and rotting offal. A terrific watchguard, but—unable to be tamed, and thus no use to us.”

“But it—”

“We gave the beast more than a fair chance. Your attempts to relocate it failed, and you were nearly disfigured the last time you dealt with it, if you’ll recall. It is too dangerous to be allowed to live this close to us.”

“It wasn’t really a danger to you.”

“No. But if it killed you, I would—” He stopped himself.

Ezra lifted his head. His eyes shone in the firelight like two black gems. Maul pinched his lips into a thin line. “Well, it’s dead, and that’s the end of the matter.” Without another word, he set off toward the staircase, leaving smears of mud and blood on the floor behind him.

Ezra watched him go, his bottom lip tucked between his teeth. Then, sighing, he picked up the sack containing the Nydak’s severed head and made his way to the cellar.

There were six bathing chambers in Castle Dathomir, all fed by water flowing from the Misty Falls, just to the north of the battlements. Maul’s personal residence occupied the lord’s chamber on the topmost floor, and Ezra’s was on the floor below, in what would have been the room of the lord’s son. Maul, however, spent few nights in his bed. He typically slept wherever he happened to be working when exhaustion finally claimed him, and the only time he made it to his bed at all was because of Ezra’s insistent but gentle pestering.

Then again, perhaps it was good that he had someone around to look after him. He was becoming more aware of his age lately, and the ease with which he’d rise refreshed after a night spent sprawled over his workbench had disappeared. On more than one occasion he’d woken with a crick in his neck and a blanket draped around his shoulders, nights when his apprentice’s remonstrations were unsuccessful. Maul had no need of blankets or other small comforts—his former master, Darth Sidious, had seen to that—but he never rebuked Ezra for these tender, compassionate gestures. And they were certainly compassionate. Sometimes it still baffled Maul how much the boy had retained of his Jedi upbringing, even though he’d been a student of Sith magic for more years than he hadn’t. His foundation had been laid in the light, and so it would remain, no matter what was built upon it. Maul no longer cared about this adulteration. He had his apprentice, his legacy, and that was all that mattered.

At the door to his personal bathing room, he stripped off his filthy layers and tossed them into a nearby basket. He stretched, turning his head this way and that, rolling his stiff shoulder. His 54-year-old body was a museum of ink and old wounds, the most noticeable being the gnarled, three-finger-wide belt of scar tissue that blazed from one side of his waist to the other, disrupting the neat lines of his tattoos. Had his enemy’s lightsword plunged any deeper, it would have been a mortal blow. It had nearly been when he’d received it; few people could survive being practically bisected.

He stepped into the rinsing stall. The water that poured onto him would have chilled an average man to his marrow, but Maul was impervious to such things, having endured far worse under Sidious’s tutelage. He scrubbed off the dried blood and grime accumulated from a fortnight’s travel, then moved to the soaking bath in the adjacent corner, a flowing, recessed pool set into the stone floor. Immersing his fist in the cold water, he uttered a brief incantation. His hand glowed red for a moment, then the water began to steam as the black rocks lining the bottom absorbed his emitted energy. In roughly two minutes, the water had reached a pleasant temperature. Maul sank into it and reclined, allowing the mineral-rich water to soothe his aches.

He hadn’t been there long when the cadence of familiar footsteps alerted him to another’s presence. “Yes, Ezra,” he said, not even bothering to open his eyes.

Ezra stepped into the steamy chamber, clutching the stem of a large goblet of wine. “Sorry to bother you, Master. I thought you’d like something to drink. A Corellian red.”

Maul cracked open one eye and studied him like a strangely-crafted sentence.

Ezra smiled, lifting the goblet. “I was in the cellar anyway, and the wine was right there, so.” He shrugged one shoulder in that affable, youthful way of his. Only Maul was aware how cunning he could be; he had been the one to teach it to him, after all.

“Of course,” Maul said after a tense pause. He lifted one dripping hand. “Come.”

But instead of approaching, Ezra used the Aether to balance the goblet in midair while he unfastened the belt of his robe. The cloth whispered as it slipped down his body and landed in a crumpled half-circle around his feet. He plucked the goblet from where it hovered, and stood, hips tilted seductively, awaiting a response.

Maul stared, motionless and shocked—but very intrigued. His eyes wandered up and down his apprentice’s golden skin, taking in his lithe musculature and the soft dark fuzz of his body hair. A handsome cock, plump with interest, sprouted above his balls. His thighs were well-muscled, his calves shapely, his feet no longer so disproportionate to the rest of his body. He had grown into them, as all teenagers eventually did, and now stood before Maul as a healthy young man in his prime. The Nydak’s last act of defiance, three pink stripes running down the right side of his ribcage, was almost completely healed.

Maul swallowed. His throat made a dry click. “Well, this is—unexpected.”

“Is it?” Ezra asked, raising his eyebrows.

“No,” Maul said. “And yes. I suppose I’ve…” He trailed off, groping for words that his tongue couldn’t find.

“Yes?” Ezra prompted, hope sparkling in his eyes.

After a blink, Maul licked his lips. “I’ll take that drink now, apprentice.”

Moving with silken grace, Ezra padded over to the bath and kneeled at the edge, fully aware that his master had not taken his eyes off of him. He passed the goblet to Maul, who promptly knocked back an enormous mouthful. Without asking permission—the boy could be quite bold at times, almost impertinently so—Ezra sat down and dipped his legs into the water. Maul didn’t say a word; keenly he watched the chill bumps break out on Ezra’s flesh, his skin brightening to red under the water as his blood vessels dilated. Ezra shuddered, but it was a pleasant, drowsy shiver.

“Mm, that feels nice.” The water swirled as he lazily swung his legs through it. “Handflare or heatcast?” he asked, using the spells’ common names.

“Heatcast,” Maul said, his yellow eyes fixed on the hypnotic motion of Ezra’s legs. “Less intense. Results in a more even temperature.”

“Yeah, but it takes longer to work.”

“It would take just as long to wait for the boiling water to cool down, and that is exactly what would have happened with a handflare.”

“How? Have you tried it?”

“I don’t have to try it to know the outcome. I am familiar enough with the spell’s properties.” Indeed, Maul had been studying fire magic longer than Ezra had been alive. He sipped his wine and tried not to stare too boorishly at that warm, inviting lap—and the pretty parts nestled there. “This is why experience is more important than knowledge, apprentice. Better to face a young sorcerer who knows a thousand spells than an old sorcerer who knows just one.”

“Hm, yeah, guess you’re right about that.” Ezra stretched his legs, wiggling his toes beneath the water. His foot brushed Maul’s thigh before settling there. “I meant to ask, how was Malachor?”

Inhaling deeply and slowly, Maul stared down at his apprentice’s pale foot on his tattooed skin. He swirled the wine in his goblet, effecting an air of nonchalance. “As expected. Desolate and deserted. No one had been there for quite some time, but the temple still stood.”

“Are you ever going to take me there?” The foot slid a little higher, nearly brushing Maul’s flaccid penis.

“Perhaps,” he said, washing down the word with another gulp. He barely registered the taste. “When you’re older and your powers have grown.”

“I’m powerful now. I’ll be a full knight soon.”

“Sith temples can be dangerous, even for experienced sorcerers—particularly for Jedi. They are fortresses, battle stations, some might say. Seats of incredible power and concentrated energy. At some point I will require your assistance to enter, but—”

“Rule of Two, right?”

“Yes. But I dare not take that chance until I am certain you can hold your own.”

Silence, brief but heavy, stretched between them until Ezra’s voice slowly cut through it like a razor through shimmersilk. “You can’t protect me forever, you know.”

The goblet paused halfway to Maul’s mouth.

“Killing every threat that comes near the castle. Teaching me the same defense spells over and over until I can cast in my sleep. Making sure I never cross paths with another Sith or Jedi.” He gave his Master a pointed look. “I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“No. No, indeed.” Maul’s eyes drifted to Ezra’s genitals. He lifted the goblet again, swallowing with a throaty gulp. The urge to lay his hand on the boy’s thigh was incinerating him. His fingers burned to grasp, to clutch. Below the water, his cock began to fatten. How long had it been? Since before he’d resettled in Dathomir? When he was still seated on the throne of Mandalore, the Darksaber clutched in his hand? Far too long, at any rate.


Breaking out of his trance, Maul inclined his face to his apprentice.

Ezra’s expression was serene and completely certain. He spread his legs, water licking at his knees. “I need you. Come to me. Please.”

Excitement and bewilderment ignited Maul’s blood and turned it to magma. He had taken boys younger than Ezra without a second thought. His lust knew no boundary, his violence no restraint, his rage no peer, yet he hesitated now. Some snarling, feral thing inside him was brought to heel by Ezra Bridger, forced out so that he could look upon himself, upon them both, in this moment. He was thrice the boy’s age. Scarred. Prickly. Unpleasant to be around. He knew this. He bred terror in the hearts of commonfolk and was loved by no one. There was no question what he was. Murderer. Thief. Villain. Ravisher. Destroyer. Blasphemer.

But Ezra.

Ezra was soft and pretty, charismatic, liked by all who met him, possessing virtues so sublime that Maul could not bring himself to root them out and destroy them. He was perfect. Neither Sith nor Jedi, not entirely dark or light, but a beautiful gray thing of immense power and potential. Maul would die to preserve him. It was he who had plucked the orphaned boy from the streets of Lothal and given him a purpose. He was his. Maul owned him, heart, mind, and soul.

And now he was waiting for him, eyes deep with longing, his naked chest rising and falling with each breath he drew.

Maul set down his goblet and turned with a quiet swish of water, inserting his body between Ezra’s knees. “If you require my… attention, apprentice, I will gladly—”

He was interrupted by a mouth meeting his own, a pair of full, soft lips pressing while an inexperienced tongue pried its way inside. Ezra slipped his arms around Maul’s damp shoulders and pulled him close, arching his back to press his chest and belly to his master’s. Maul’s hands rose of their own accord and settled on Ezra’s waist, fingers spread, sinking into the thin layer of fat there. He kissed back, and it was like kissing the embodiment of bliss. It was perhaps the single most beautiful thing Maul had ever felt in his life.

And now that he’d tasted it, he wanted more.

Ezra was the first to disengage for a breath. He rolled his lips inward, licking away the secondhand taste of wine. Maul stared at his mouth, at the way the plump flesh slid between Ezra’s teeth, the wet pink flash of tongue, and yearned to feel it again. It was his, after all, so he leaned in and took it.

A whimper of delight rose from Ezra’s throat as his master devoured him. He clamped his legs around the scarred waist, locking his ankles together underwater. He rocked against Maul, seeking stimulation for his erection, pinned between them. The water began to churn as their motions became more enthusiastic.

Ravenous greed galvanized Maul, and he broke away and moved down, biting and sucking at Ezra’s neck, clavicle, and chest. Consuming him, drinking in the emotions blazing through their bond. Ezra yipped and squealed when Maul bit too hard, but his wicked smile never faded. He was finally getting what he wanted, and he loved every second of it. He leaned back on his elbows and watched with lust-glazed eyes as his master gave his belly one last nip before taking his entire cock into his mouth.

“Ohh,” Ezra moaned under his breath. He slid down completely on his back, the stones cold against his bare skin, and gasped and groaned as Maul sucked him. He cradled Maul’s head in his hands and stroked, following his bobbing motions, fingertips grazing the horns that few had ever touched and lived to tell about. The horns themselves had no feeling, but the ridges of skin from which they sprouted did, and sensation throbbed through Maul, producing a strangely titillating effect. He dug his fingers into Ezra’s thighs and sucked harder, urgently, making the boy cry out both in pain and ecstasy. Ezra didn’t last long under his master’s expert ministrations—barely two minutes—before he clenched every muscle in his body and poured himself down Maul’s throat with a strangled groan. Not a drop was wasted.

Maul released his apprentice with a wet pop and straightened his back. His grin was vulgar, leering, almost proud. “Magnificent.”

Still panting, Ezra launched upright and wrapped his legs around Maul’s muscular torso, his arms around Maul’s neck, and met his master in another kiss. Maul returned it with as much passion as he was given, and pulled away leaving Ezra starved for more.

“Let me suck you, Master,” Ezra begged. His eyes were black, cheeks flushed a pretty red, his bottom lip swollen and shiny. “Let me—let me please you. I want to.”

His words went straight to Maul’s cock. “An excellent idea. But not here.” Maul rose from the pool with a splash.

Ezra stared.

Water sluiced off of the Zabrak’s long, curving, tattooed erection. A pair of heavy testicles swung just below, dripping and shiny. Unable to control himself, Ezra scrabbled to his knees and crawled forward, grabbing Maul by the buttocks and pulling him into his mouth. Maul stared down at the boy between his legs, surprised but pleased by his zeal. Ezra gagged the first few times he took him all the way in, but soon he learned to relax his throat and stifle the reflex. He opened wide and sucked the water from his master’s musky skin, head bobbing, tongue stroking.

It was euphoric. Maul’s eyes rolled back and his hand found its way into Ezra’s hair, holding tightly. His apprentice’s mouth was warm and wet and sweet, and as much as he would love to fuck it until it flowed over white, he had no desire to end this encounter so quickly—especially if it were destined to be the last. Taking hold of Ezra’s shoulders, Maul dragged him off of his cock and stared down at his dazed, devoted expression. The words came out softer than he intended: “My bed. Now.”

“Yes, Master,” Ezra said breathlessly. When he stood, Maul saw that he was nearly erect again.

“Ah, the resilience of youth,” he declared, gaze fixed on Ezra’s departing backside—a lovely view. One he wouldn’t mind seeing more often.

He snatched a towel from a hook and dried himself just enough that he was no longer dripping. Then, tossing it aside, he made his way into his dim, candlelit bedroom.

Ezra waited for him on the bed, sprawled on his back with one arm folded beneath his head, gently pumping his fist up and down on his cock. He stopped when he saw his master, and sat up, alert, fully hard again. Maul mounted the bed, muscles rippling beneath his inked skin. With a boldness that Maul would not have permitted in any other situation, Ezra took him by the shoulders and shoved him onto his back, then climbed on top of him and proceeded to pepper his neck and chest, even the hideous scar on his belly, with fervent, worshipful kisses.

It stirred up something odd buried deep in the murky silt of Maul’s soul. A weird, vulnerable feeling. He didn’t like it at all.

He grabbed a fistful of Ezra’s dark hair and guided him to what mattered. Ezra went obediently, taking Maul into his mouth and giving him a few shallow, amateur strokes before finding his rhythm. Maul lay back and savored the sight of his handsome apprentice lying between his thighs, nursing his cock in a way that spoke of much research but very little experience. It allowed him to fantasize about what would happen in the next few moments, until he was more aroused by anticipation than by Ezra’s skills.

“Enough,” Maul grunted, pushing the boy off of him with a squelch. “I will have you now.”

After an awkward, wide-eyed pause, Ezra sat up and waddled over until he was straddling Maul’s hips. He chewed his bottom lip nervously.

“This is your first time, isn’t it?” Maul asked.

“Sort of,” Ezra said. “Um. I think we need some oil? Or something?”

“As you wish.” With a flick of his wrist, Maul summoned a vial of oil. It appeared from thin air with a red shimmer. He gave it to Ezra. “Put it on me. Be generous with it, darling.”

Preening at the endearment and more than a little flushed, Ezra uncorked the vial and poured, as instructed, a generous amount onto Maul’s erection, massaging it with both hands until Maul was quite breathless. “Very good,” he panted, and grasped his gleaming erection at the base, holding it up. “Now—come and sit.”

Ezra hovered over Maul on all fours and rotated his hips until the tip of Maul’s cock brushed against his entrance. Then, biting his lip, he sank down centimeter by centimeter.

“Yes,” Maul murmured, trying to keep his voice steady despite the delectable sensation of Ezra’s tight, slick heat closing over the sensitive ridges of his penis. “Excellent. Keep going, dear boy, that’s it.”

He did. It was glorious, maddening. When Ezra at last rested his full weight on Maul’s hips, he exhaled heavily, hands planted on Maul’s hard chest, and tried to acclimate to the feeling of being so fully and wholly penetrated.

Maul cupped Ezra’s hips, fingers pressing into his meaty buttocks. “Speak to me, apprentice.”

“I’m fine. It’s just—ah, you’re so deep.” Ezra put a hand on his belly, just below his navel. “I can feel you all the way up here. Haa.” He lifted himself up. Maul’s tattooed cock emerged, gleaming with oil, then disappeared as Ezra reseated himself. “Oh, that’s good. So good. Nhh.” He smiled and stared down at Maul as he began to grind himself on his lap. “I knew we’d fit.”

A throb of arousal pulsed through Maul—hard enough that Ezra felt it. He made a noise somewhere between a squeak and a sigh, and then he began to move.

It took him a few moments to find his stride, but with Maul’s calm guidance and encouraging words, he was soon bouncing energetically on his master’s lap, his cock wagging up and down, raining drops of precum onto his black and red skin. “Yes, yes, yes,” Ezra gasped through smiling lips, his hair fluttering with his motions.

Maul stared up at him with wonder and the faintest hint of curiosity, enthralled by the pleasure radiating through his body. Never had he reached such heights of satisfaction with any partner before. Everything about this moment was exquisite. Just like the boy riding him.

“You—are—superb, Ezra,” he praised. “Would you like me to touch you?”

“Oh, fuck, yes, please,” Ezra gasped, letting go of himself so that his master could take care of him.

Maul wrapped his long, lean hand around Ezra’s cock and stroked. The boy slowed down and began to roll his hips, grinding himself onto Maul and rising and falling slowly on and off. Maul’s dual hearts thudded as he stared where he and his apprentice were joined. Somehow this relaxed pace was more stimulating than the faster intercourse they were having earlier. His head swam, nearly dizzy.

This had never happened to him before.

Ezra planted his hands on Maul’s chest and bit his lip. “Oh. Oh, Master, I’m—”

“Yes, good,” Maul purred. “Come for me, apprentice. Let it go. Come. Come, darling, that’s it.”

Ezra climaxed with a groan, his whole body jerking and jolting. He clamped his hands around Maul’s forearms and bucked hard, jets of semen squirting from his cock and splattering in messy lines on Maul’s chest. His channel clenched and fluttered around Maul, and the kiss of his sweet flesh sent Maul over the edge. He gripped Ezra’s hips and screwed his face into a snarl, growling wordlessly as he thrust upward, deeper, buried himself into his apprentice and marked him intimately.

When the last tremors of their climax had faded, Ezra gingerly pulled himself off of Maul and flopped onto his back. They lay together quietly in the light of the candles, side by side, catching their breaths.

“So,” Maul said after a time, “tell me, my clever boy, what potion did you put in my wine to enthrall me? Or did you perhaps help yourself to one of the elixirs while you were down in the cellar?”

“I didn’t,” Ezra said.

There was no lie to be detected in his aura. Not even the faintest hint. Maul stared at the ceiling for a few blank moments, attempting to navigate the fantastic idea that what had just happened between them had not been facilitated by aphrodisiacs or hallucinogens. When at last he found his tongue, he said in a halting voice, “I must admit, I find your affections to be rather… baseless.”

“Seriously?” Ezra scoffed. “You’ve been courting me since I was fifteen. What else did you expect?”

Maul turned with a quizzical frown. “Impossible.”

The cheerful nod said otherwise.

After a loaded pause, Maul shook his head. “Ridiculous. I do not court.”

“Uh, yeah, let’s see.” Ezra began ticking off fingers. “You cut off Jod Uvikk’s arm in Sundari for calling me a brat. You almost killed Lag Pyke for letting me try spice at the Shadow Symposium last year, not to mention how you look at every single person I’ve ever been interested in like you wanna rip their guts out.”

“None of them was good enough for you, Ezra,” Maul said airily. “I am doing you a favor. Besides, you should be concentrating on your studies.”

Ezra sighed. “See? And not only is no one else ‘good enough’ for me, you’re the only one allowed to give me presents.”

“That is for your own safety, I assure you. We have many enemies who would be happy to destroy one or both of us.”

“Whatever. You bring back gifts for me every time you go away on business, and you let me dress like a mage, even though you hate them. You’ve given me more tabards that ‘complement my eyes’ than I can count. You know the names of all my favorite books, and you make breakfast for me every day even though you don’t eat breakfast, when we’ve got homunculi that can take care of that.”

The tattoos on Maul’s face twisted into unusual shapes. “It is merely a precaution. I never have to fear you being poisoned if I prepare your food myself. Humans are delicate creatures, and you have not had the desensitization training I have.”

“You bring me flowers, Maul.”

“Those are for potions!”

“You can’t make potions out of Dathomirian blood roses.”

“There are—medicinal properties. The oil has—aromatic qualities that aid meditation and—mood elevation.”

“So basically they smell good and make me happy.” Ezra rolled his eyes. “Thank you, Master. You’re so kind and thoughtful. Just like a Jedi.”

Maul’s lip curled. “You are obsessed and delusional. Seeing things that aren’t there, inventing fantastic stories to explain my most mundane actions—actions that any self-respecting master is obligated to perform. No, apprentice, I’m afraid the only one of us in love is you.”

A warm hand on Maul’s cheek turned his head, and Ezra kissed him. Deeply. After several lazy, luxurious moments, their lips parted with a wet click. “Go to sleep, Master,” Ezra whispered.

Maul scowled but made no quip. Ezra settled against him and closed his eyes. After a minute, Maul put his arm around Ezra’s shoulders and turned to press his nose into his dark hair.

He fell asleep with the scent of his apprentice deep in his lungs.

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